My favorite Pear (fairy mascot) appeared on the Japanese version of Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? last night and became only the third contestant ever in the TV show's close-to-10-year history to win the top prize of 3 million Yen! My serious happiness upon learning this piece of news is a testimony to how much I love Funassyi but, also, how welcome it is these days to come by a piece of happy news. I mean, we're currently living in times when even this wonderfully whimsical creation of a private citizen of the Japanese city of Funabashi has felt a need to Tweet about the Wuhan coronavirus, and the importance of wearing masks and washing hands (in addition to lighter topics such as Miruko's birthday and its hero, Ozzy Osbourne).
In all seriousness, it really is pretty shocking how much the Wuhan coronavirus has spread in recent weeks; with confirmed cases of infection now having exceeded 100,000 in number. Today, Hong Kong reported having its 108th confirmed Wuhan coronavirus case. You'd not have thought it would be so maybe as late as a week or two ago but this number actually is considerably lower than the confirmed number of infections in the likes of the USA, Germany, France, Spain and Italy now, never mind Mainland China and South Korea.
Very belatedly, the Hong Kong government appears to be doing some sensible things, on the health front if nothing else. From midnight tonight, all travellers arriving at Hong Kong International Airport will be required to fill out and submit health declaration forms. (This came after a number of imported Wuhan coronavirus cases put the spotlight on flight passengers.) In addition, immigration officials have successfully intercepted 17 people who attempted to flee from the compulsory-14-day self-quarantine imposed on them after they returned from Mainland China and other areas with super high Wuhan coronavirus infection numbers.
In all honesty though, I do reckon that the people of Hong Kong deserve far more credit for their efforts at preventing the Wuhan coronavirus from spreading faster and further than the government. Even while authorities in a number of other territories are still maintaining that the wearing of masks is not necessary for the general populace, medical experts like Hong Kong's Dr Ho Pak-leung have stated that universal mask-wearing is a good preventative measure against the Wuhan coronavirus -- along with such as the disinfecting of public spaces on a scale that few other parts of the world can imagine.
I was supposed to visit Penang last month but cancelled the trip a week before my scheduled departure. At the time, the number of confirmed Wuhan coronavirus cases in Malaysia were lower than they are now and the sense coming out of there appeared to be that I was on the paranoid side with regards to my Wuhan coronavirus fears. In light of the recent developments though, I think people there are realizing that my Chicken Little-like pronouncements may be valid after all.
Speaking of that politically troubled land: Close to two weeks after the collapse of the country's Pakatan Harapan government, Malaysia is still without a health minister -- or, for that matter, any minister other than a prime minister who's compounded the political crisis by postponing the next meeting of the Malaysian parliament by two months. It may well be entirely coincidental but since Dr. Dzukefly Ahmad vacated the health ministerial post, Malaysia's cases of Wuhan coronavirus infections has shot up quite a bit; with the country having had its biggest jump in infection numbers to date yesterday with the confirmation of 28 new cases and there being 10 more new cases reported today, bringing the total to 93.
All in all, I think it indisputable that good governance and politics has an effect on many aspects of our lives, including our physical health and medical preparedness. At the same time, as Hong Kongers have shown time and time again over the past 10 months or so, when the authorities don't do their job -- or just plain do it badly -- then people will rise, to help one another (including to procure face masks and other equipment that protects -- from viruses and also untrustworthy governments).